Kicks Against Breast Cancer



Alex Gallucci

At Villanova, students would often agree that if you’re not involved in community service, you will most likely find yourself in the minority. The opportunities to serve others tpresented by the university to its students are so extensive that you’d need a calendar to keep track of them all. Whether it’s a service trip, Saturday Habitat, Bigs and Littles or a special event on campus, Villanova’s dedication to service is so strong that it’s pretty difficult not to get involved. Participation is not limited to designated service groups either – even varsity and club sports teams provide opportunities to take part in philanthropic events.

This Saturday, the women’s soccer team will compete in the 13th annual Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournament. This year will mark the women’s first participation in the event, under Head Coach John Byford. He first learned of the event five years ago during his tenure at Loyola College in Maryland, where the varsity women’s soccer team also participates in this tournament.

“It’s a great tournament to play in not only because of the high quality of the teams, but also because it benefits such a great cause,” Byford says.

The Kicks Against Breast Cancer is a women’s intercollegiate soccer tournament that benefits the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital – a cutting-edge wellness model that is dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors and women living with breast cancer learn to cope with the psychological and physical side effects of the disease. The center operates as a 501c3 non-profit organization and a part of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Columbia, MD.

This year’s event will bring together 14 teams of college and professional levels to provide a unique mix of elite soccer and philanthropy. The day will consist of each team playing two 70-minute games in the morning and afternoon, both held at Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.

This year’s contestants consist of competitive, top college teams that will travel from Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York and include schools such as Ohio State, the U.S. Naval Academy and the College of William and Mary – just to name a few.

Each team participating in the Kicks Against Breast Cancer is asked to raise at least $1,000; however, Villanova has already raised $2,700 – an amount that has well surpassed the team’s personal goal of $2,000.

The team’s primary source of fundraising came by letter-writing; Byford asked that each member of the Wildcats team to send out a minimum of 20 e-mails to family and friends asking for sponsorships and donations.

The tournament honors the memory of Mayer, a dear friend of tournament director Louise Waxler, who passed away in 1996 after battling breast cancer for two years. Shortly after her death, Waxler developed the event as a fundraiser for the Claudia Mayer Resource Center.Currently, Waxler, Connie Bivens, president of Sports Pins International, and Lynn Berling-Manuel, former CEO and publisher of Soccer America Magazine, work collaboratively to organize the event. All three women have had careers that have been dominated by soccer.

Waxler’s fundraiser has been so successful that it was expanded in 2005 to include men’s college teams, as well as women’s. Additionally, two other annual tournaments are currently held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. and Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. Since its initiation in 1997, the Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournaments have raised more than $700,000.

According to Waxler, the tournament has been such a success in the past, not only because it provides players and coaches with such high-level competition, but also because the event bears such significance in providing education and raising awareness about breast cancer. The funds raised from the event go towards research, education and treatment. This funding is vital to fighting the disease.

Although the Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournament is a new addition to the Wildcats’ schedule, their participation in philanthropy events is certainly not lacking. In a game during this past fall season, the team honored Breast Cancer Awareness Day by wearing pink tee-shirts during warm ups. Additionally, the team participates in Philadelphia’s annual City-6 soccer clinic that benefits local children in the community. The team’s involvement even continues out of its season, as several members will travel to South Carolina to work on a Habitat for Humanity project upon the completion of finals in May.

This weekend’s Kicks Against Breast Cancer Tournament will give the Wildcats the chance to match up with several competitive non-conference teams, but more importantly, they will be given the chance to make a difference off of the field in the lives of people affected by cancer. Villanova prides itself on the success of its athletic programs and its dedication to the service of others; the women’s soccer team has undoubtedly found the perfect opportunity to satisfy both of these passions.